City of Miami Beach Election
Your secret ballot means it's all yours to decide, but hopefully this local, nonprofit-prepared info help you feel confident in voting!
On November 7th, 2017 Miami Beach will hold its general election to elect a mayor and two commissioners. Both commissioner positions are elected city-wide. Additionally voters will be asked to weigh in on two proposed city ordinances (laws)- one to end the sale of alcohol on Ocean Drive earlier and one to allow for greater development in a part of North Beach. If one candidate for any of the offices does not receive 50% of the votes + 1 on November 7th, the top two candidates will advance to a run-off election on November 21st.
Find more info on how to vote and the candidates and proposal below.
Miami Beach voters can vote early at either Miami Beach City Hall (1700 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach) or North Shore Branch Library (7501 Collins Ave, Miami Beach) from Monday 10/23 through Sunday 11/5 at the following hours:
Vote By Mail:
All voters can request a vote by mail ballot until Wednesday, November 1st at 5:00 pm. You can submit a request by going to the Supervisor of Election's website and entering your voter information and scrolling down to request a vote by mail ballot.
Vote by mail ballots can be mailed back or dropped off at the Supervisor of Elections office (2700 NW 87 Avenue, Miami). Your ballot must be received by 7 pm on election day. You can track the status of your ballot at the Supervisor of Election's website in the same spot you requested a vote by mail ballot.
Additional information and questions about early voting may be answered at the Supervisor of Election's vote by mail page.
On election day you must vote at your assigned polling location. You can find your polling location by entering your information on the Supervisor of Election's website and scrolling down under "Future Elections." Precincts are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.
When voting in-person, whether early voting or on Election Day, you must bring a current and valid identification that contains your name, photograph and signature. You can also combine two forms of ID that together have your name, photograph, and signature.
Acceptable forms of identification include:
- Florida Driver's License
- Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
- United States Passport
- Debit or credit card
- Military identification
- Student identification
- Retirement center identification
- Public assistance identification
- Neighborhood Association identification
- Florida concealed-weapon licenses
- Veteran Health Identification Cards issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Government issued employee identification
Kenneth Bereski II
- Biography: Kenneth R. Bereski II has lived on Miami Beach since 2005. For nearly 10 years he ran a small IT consulting business serving consumers and small business around Miami Dade County, as well as volunteering for local environmental causes. Bereski travelled to all of his clients on his bicycle, and learned very quickly how dangerous local roadways can be. With the goal of improving road safety he began to get involved with the city and civic organizations on the beach. As he continues to heal, Bereski believes this is the perfect opportunity to serve his local community. With no real business left to run, the position of Mayor would be Bereski’s full time job. He is excited about dedicating his full efforts into making Miami Beach a safe and enjoyable place to live and work, as well as continuing his long standing support of environmental causes. Bereski grew up in the northeast, and graduated from Boston College before the climate drew him south. After his first South Beach winter, he can’t imagine ever leaving.
- Issues On Website:
Community: Our city has been squandering it’s greatest asset: us. Miami Beach is populated by some of the best and the brightest in all variety of fields, many of whom want to get involved. Rather than silencing them, we need to encourage this involvement. Our city will thrive as a community, and I’ll make sure our government supports this.
Accountability: We need a government that takes responsibility for its actions. City officials, employees, police officers, contractors… all need to be held to the highest standards.
Transparency: Our government seems to operate in the dark way too often. Commission agenda titles are sometimes misleading, if things even show up there. It seems you need to sacrifice your entire life to staying on top of whats going on. We need more ways for citizen involvement, not less.
Environment: We can continue and enhance our environmental adaptations. Miami Beach is at great risk, but working together we can mitigate that and prosper as a city.
Safety: Improving the safety of our roadways for all users. Restoring trust in our police department. Reducing crime. Building a citywide community that can trust and support each other. These are all attainable goals.
Quality of Life: We have a diverse mix of residential and commercial interests here in Miami Beach. We need to find ways to find common ground. We can have a thriving nightlife and tourism industry as well as a peaceful residential community. We just need to come to the table and work things out. Mutual respect can go a long way.
- Biography: Dan was appointed one of the nation’s youngest federal prosecutors. For nearly a decade, Dan handled some of Florida’s most significant public corruption prosecutions, ultimately becoming a decorated top deputy and supervising hundreds of federal prosecutors and investigations. After his work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Dan was selected to be the Democratic Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the prestigious U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations – a position previously held by Bobby Kennedy. In 2000, Dan was elected to represent the residents of Miami Beach in the Florida House of Representatives. His House Democratic colleagues soon unanimously selected him as their Democratic Leader. In 2008, he was elected to represent Florida’s 35th District in the Florida State Senate. In the legislature, Dan was a leading voice on strengthening public schools and improving public safety and public corruption laws. He led the battle against windstorm insurance rate hikes and was recognized as a relentless champion for LGBT rights. Today, Dan is considered to be one of Florida’s most respected voices on Florida public policy. Dan is a magna cum laude graduate of Tufts University and the University of Florida College of Law, where he was a Truman Scholar. Dan founded the law firm Gelber Schachter Greenberg PA and is listed in Best Lawyers in America and has achieved the highest ethical rating from his peers. He and Joan have three children and a dog that they hope one day will be fully trained (the dog, not the children).
- Biography: Daniel Kahn first fell in love with Miami Beach at age 16, when he would visit from New York spending his time at the iconic Fontainebleau Hotel to assist in managing the wait staff during the Passover holiday. Eight years later Daniel Kahn’s dream to move to Miami Beach became a reality and he immediately immersed himself in the Miami Beach hospitality industry. From his start as a manager at Touch on Lincoln Road, to his years as Director of Food and Beverage Marketing for Morgans Hotel Group which included Delano, Shore Club, and Mondrian Hotels, Kahn knows the ins and outs of the industry better than anyone in the city. With 11 years living on Miami Beach, Daniel Kahn also knows that the heartbeat of the city rests within its residents. Daniel Kahn’s passion for the city as a whole and his knowledge of the intricacies of its arteries is unmatched. A strong business mind, Daniel Kahn runs a successful marketing, branding and promotional products company where he consults for small businesses, Fortune 500 companies and professional sports teams. From his extensive experience, Daniel Kahn realizes that in order for the city to take a step forward there are three components – residents, workforce and tourists – that require a healthy harmony and constant care in order to change Miami Beach for the better. With an eye on all three, Miami Beach can reach new heights. With Daniel Kahn, “We Kahn Change.”
City Commission- Group 2
- Biography: Mark Samuelian combines the skills of an expert business strategist with the experience of a proven community leader. A former partner at the international technology and business consulting firm Accenture, he brings three decades of engineering and business management expertise to his many volunteer leadership roles throughout the community. He is the past President and a current board director of Miami Beach United, an established city-wide resident advocacy organization. He also serves on the Board of the Belle Isle Residents’ Association and the Pets’ Trust Advisory Board. He has both attended and lectured for the Good Government Initiative. A homeowner in Miami Beach since 2003, Mark has lived in 3 different homes on the Beach and has enjoyed the richness and diversity of its different neighborhoods. Mark met Laura Dominguez (his Life Partner) in 2012 and currently they live on the Venetian Islands. Mark holds an engineering degree, cum laude, from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Issues On Website
Keep the Beach Moving: Mark will bring innovative transportation and parking solutions to address congestion.
Continue to Address Flooding & Sea Level Rise: As an engineer, Mark will embrace the latest technologies to help create long-term and short-term solutions.
Improve Quality of Life for Residents: Mark will ensure that government policies and actions deliver for Miami Beach residents.
Fighting Corruption: On the City Commission, Mark will work to establish an independent Office of Inspector General to address issues of corruption and to ensure transparency in government.
Make Government More Efficient, Effective, and Responsive: Mark knows how to help an organization become more “customer friendly” and professional, provide better services and improve overall financial health.
Celebrate Diversity & Increase Diversity: Get our vibrant LGBT community, diverse ethnic groups, preservationists, small businesses and the entire city working together for a better Beach.
Ensuring Access to Education: Quality education is critical to the City of Miami Beach and its residents – whether they have children or not. As your next commissioner, Mark will make education a top priority.
Keeping Our Streets Safe: No resident should feel unsafe in a city with the resources of Miami Beach, but increasingly many of our neighbors are expressing concerns about crime and public safety. Mark supports increasing police resources so our brave men and women in uniform have the tools they need to keep our streets safe. Mark also supports the implementation of body cameras to maintain accountability and to cut down on legal costs associated with frivolous lawsuits against law enforcement officers.
Rafael A. Velasquez
- Biography: I was born on March 16, 1973 in Berlin/Germany (West) as son of Edgard Antonio Velasquez, a Peruvian citizen, and Sonia Velasquez, a German citizen. After living 5 years in Lima, Peru and 15 in Berlin, I decided in 1993 to continue my studies in Florida. In 1996, I obtained my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and thereafter began law school at the University of Florida, College of Law in Gainesville. After my graduation in 1999, I moved to Los Angeles, California, where I practiced civil litigation law until 2001, when I decided to move back to Miami Beach. I have been a Miami/Miami Beach resident ever since, and presently am President/Broker of Sunset Realty Group in Miami Beach, FL. I currently am on the Board of Trustees of the Florida Democratic Party, member of the Miami-Dade Hispanic Democratic Caucus, the Young Democrats, Downtown Democrats and until March 2017 was Finance Chair of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Executive Committee. In 2016, I was a member of the Hillary Clinton Latino Finance Council, and National Finance Committee. I am an experienced political analyst, media commentator, and in 2016 was part of the Clinton press surrogate team. Over the years, I have also served as a Guardian ad Litem for abused and neglected children, a big brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami, and a pro-bono attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union and the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center. Since 1999, I have been an active supporter, volunteer, and fundraiser for the Gore, Kerry, Obama, and Clinton presidential campaigns.
- Issues On Website (more detailed information on website):
Local Crime and Public Safety: Increasing public safety and preventing crime is vital to maintaining Miami Beach’s high level of quality of life, for both residents and tourists. Public safety is vital in any thriving city.
Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise: As the flooding that often shuts down large parts of our city shows, we are far from reaching an acceptable level in meeting the challenges of sea level rise brought on by climate change. Indeed, stopping sea level rise is an existential battle our community needs to take on in order to survive. We need to do it together: elected officials, experts and residents.
Cronyism and Special Interest Representation: Unfortunately, we live in a time where people have very little trust in their government. That is neither healthy nor good for democracy. A lot of the problem comes from the perception that the friends and family of politicians and city bureaucrats get special deals at City Hall, or that donors and supporters of political campaigns have outsize influence. I know that most of the people that work in government are smart and honorable and want to dispel this perception, and that what the public really wants is TRANSPARENCY.
Government Corruption, Fraud, Waste and Abuse: Every few years, we have a storyline that repeats itself in Miami Beach. The state attorney or the feds come in and accuse a department director, an assistant city manager, or a city manager of corruption. People are fired, arrested, or resign. The politicians wring their hands about how that behavior is unacceptable, but nothing changes. The feds or the state attorney leaves, and everything quiets down… until the next time. We are better than this. I believe that as a city, we need to get a handle on government corruption, waste, fraud and abuse. That is why when I’m commissioner, I will work to establish an Office of the Inspector General in the City of Miami Beach, modeled after the county’s office.
Traffic/Parking/Speed Limits: I support finding a feasible Baylink solution or a Metromover expansion for elevated rail connecting Downtown Miami to South Beach. We need to find a solution to alleviate continued traffic congestion on our causeways. I do not support any trains at grade level within the city of Miami Beach, as I believe those will make traffic worse. We need to expand currently available City parking and explore options to relieve areas of present traffic congestion. Miami Beach traffic congestion directly impacts our community’s quality of life. We also need to review and adjust current speed limits on Miami Beach where necessary and possible. Law enforcement of current speed limits is important to maintain Miami Beach neighborhoods safe. New traffic lights and speed bumps should be used as methods to reduce traffic speed.
Development: I am against overdevelopment and for smart development. Considering Miami Beach’s space limitations and changing climate, we need to smartly re-develop our community in a way that preserves its historic character.
Proposed North Beach District and its Boundaries: I support the proposed North Beach district in order to protect and preserve the architectural historic character of North Beach.I do not have a specific opinion on the district's boundaries. North Beach residents, Historic Preservation Board, and City planners should present recommendations to our Commission.
Miami Beach Convention Center Hotel: I was and am against a Convention Center Hotel project because I believe that it will make our existing traffic problem worse. Moreover, we have sufficient available hotels in the immediate neighborhood of our convention center in order to provide any necessary visitor lodging.
Ocean Drive Last Call Times: Now that I am married and have children, I also think it is wrong and immoral to take an action that will swiftly put many primary breadwinners out of a job. I also think that it is wrong to mess with an industry that is directly and indirectly providing the largest part of revenue funding our city, county and state. If we attack tourism, we are attacking the very services that make Miami Beach an amazingly unique place to live. Without that money, we would have to reduce services or raise taxes. Not a great idea.
Short-Term Rentals: I support necessary short-term rental restrictions in order to protect the residential character of our neighborhoods and keep rental prices affordable for long-term residents. However, I oppose punitive measures that deter occasional short-term rentals by owners who sublease their residences within the rules of their living communities. Any homeowner or authorized tenant should be able to rent their property out when they leave on vacation, as long as this is only done occasionally, and not as a way to run a covert hotel. Policy should always be driven by a legal standard that respects both property rights and the public interest.
Littering, Pollution and Use of Clean Energy: A clean city is imperative to have good quality of life and a thriving business environment on Miami Beach. I support continuing our city’s current Styrofoam ban, and support expansion of such ban to plastic bags. Styrofoam is among the most common pollutants in the bay, and it is affecting our beaches and also wildlife life in in our community. Plastic bags are not biodegradable; they endanger marine life, and cause flooding by clogging storm drains. I support use of clean, renewable, and solar energy wherever possible, and will push for solar panels to completely power our new convention center.
Miami Beach Public Housing: Steeply increasing rents and resulting gentrification present an immediate threat to our elderly living off limited incomes, as well as many families working in Miami Beach. Therefore, I see an imminent public affordable housing need, especially for individuals and families who have lived for more than 5 years in our city already. They are part of our community and we need to protect them. I believe that the MBCDC and MB Housing Authority can provide public solutions by buying existing residential buildings in order to provide public housing. I also support current Commission plans to develop public housing on existing city lots.
Cuba: I oppose a Cuban Consulate in Miami Beach.
City Commission- Group 3
- Biography: Michael Góngora began his tenure in public service when he was appointed to serve on various community, arts, and city committees in 2000 after being elected as President of the Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce. Elected to a partial Commissioner term in 2006 and re-elected to a full term in 2009, Góngora’s goal has always have been to improve lives of our residents. The challenges facing our city during this critical time has convinced Góngora to offer himself as our Commissioner again. He will put his experience and knowledge of our city to work immediately. Góngora graduated from the University of Miami’s Law School in 1994, and practices community association law, representing many condominium and homeowner associations in South Florida. Góngora has served as chairman of several boards and committees: Environmental Coalition of Miami and the Beaches (ECOMB); Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce, three consecutive terms; and, Miami Beach Bar Association, two terms. In 2010, Góngora became the first Miami Beach Commissioner to a member of the Board of Directors for Council Towers — providing affordable housing for our elderly residents while successfully expand their food programs. As an enthusiastic advocate of environmental issues, Góngora led to the creation of the city’s Sustainability Committee. During his tenure as Commissioner, Góngora was Chairman of the City’s Land Use and Development Committee; represented us at the Miami-Dade County League of Cities; and as well as was a member of the Finance Committee.
- Issues On Website (more detailed information on website):
Crime: On day one, Góngora will convene a stakeholders’ summit including police and residents to tackle this problem because he knows meaningful solutions to our problems are community-based
Reduce Traffic: Traffic and parking solutions were always my top priority as your Commissioner. I have the experience and knowledge to effectuate a positive change in managing traffic. We will carefully examine options to reduce the serious traffic problems. As always, I will work diligently to ensure proper management of our road construction projects while trying to perform work when traffic is at its least — during the summer months. Projects must promptly start, and, be completed quickly before starting another road project.
Improve and Promote Transportation Solutions: We must have first class public transportation to encourage people to get out of their cars. I have previously supported a mass transit plan that would connect Miami and Miami Beach. I opposed a plan, however, for a very expensive inner-city train in South Beach which did not connect to Miami or any other part of Miami Beach. Instead, I will push plans forward that will connect all of Miami Beach and also connect us to the mainland. In exploring alternative mass transit options, we need to thoroughly explore what other communities have successfully done to guide the way to solutions. Some ideas include expansion of trolley service and more express buses to a major area such as downtown and the Miami International Airport.
Stop Overdevelopment: As your commissioner, I never voted to allow development without restraint or oversight that detracts from the needs of our residents. We need additional restrictions to avoid excess traffic and other demands that limit our city services and infrastructure. Enforcing existing controls is a positive first step. During my previous service, I am proud to have crafted many meaningful solutions to our growth issues that have protected our residents.
Ensure Financial Responsibility and Accountability: As your Commissioner, I demanded accountability from city staff. Thanks in part to my leadership, City Hall became more transparent with many new department heads. Sadly, during the time that I was not your Commissioner, accountability and transparency have become less stringent. As Commissioner I will make accountability and transparency paramount again.
Flooding and Sea Level Rise Solutions: As your Commissioner, I was a tireless and enthusiastic advocate on behalf of environmental causes. As a result, this led to the creation Miami Beach’s first Sustainability Committee. As Chairman, I focused on identifying and promoting policies aimed at achieving a sustainable environment and flood reduction and pump stations became a reality. I enacted the first citywide recycling program and created a sustainability plan that encourages developers to erect greener buildings. As always, the threat of sea level rise and flooding will be a primary concern.
Advocate For Quality Education: As your Commissioner, education has always been a high priority. We strengthened our relationship with Miami-Dade Public Schools to ensure that each and every student in Miami Beach has access to the best possible education. Included in this is our participation in the International Baccalaureate Program.
- Biography: I am running for Miami Beach City Commissioner because my family and I have been proud to call Miami Beach our home since my parents moved here 44 years ago. I am a husband, a father, and a proud small business owner who understands the value of ensuring Miami Beach residents deserve the very best quality of life. If honored to serve as your City Commission, I will champion solutions to alleviate traffic congestion, over development, increase government transparency and accountability, and support infrastructure investments that fixes flooding. I have been honored to serve our community in several leadership positions. As President of the Lincoln Road Mercantile Association, I fought on behalf of small business owners to maintain the character of Lincoln Road. In 2015, I was appointed to the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority where I worked to bring boutique events to Miami Beach like SCOPE Art Fair, Food and Wine Festival and the Winter Party Festival. Most recently, I founded the non-profit organization, AG Youth Hospitality Project, the driving force in creating the Miami Beach Senior High School culinary classroom project. I am proud to call Miami Beach my home. This is where I was raised and where my wife, Laura, and I are raising our two sons, Dylan and Theo.
Changing alcoholic beverage sales/consumption termination time on Ocean Drive from 5th to 15th Streets
- "City law currently allows the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages on private property at alcoholic beverage establishments located on Ocean Drive from 5th to 15th Streets from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. the following day. Shall an Ordinance be adopted changing this current 5:00 a.m. termination time to 2:00 a.m., exempting from this time change those indoor portions of alcoholic beverage establishments that are completely enclosed and located entirely within hotels?"
- A yes vote would move "last call" for the sale and consumption of alcohol on Ocean Drive from 5 am currently to 2 am with the exception of businesses completely inside and within hotels
FAR Increase For TC-1, TC-2 and TC-3 to 3.5 FAR
- FAR Increase For TC-1, TC-2 and TC-3 to 3.5 FAR Floor area ratio (FAR) is the measure the City utilizes to regulate the overall size of a building. Should the City adopt an ordinance increasing FAR in the Town Center (TC) zoning districts (Collins and Dickens Avenues to Indian Creek Drive between 69 and 72 Streets) to 3.5 FAR from current FAR of 2.25 to 2.75 for the TC-1 district; from 2.0 for the TC-2 district; and from 1.25 for the TC-3 district?
- A yes vote would allow for bigger and taller buildings to be developed on the streets described above (what is being called the "Town Center" of North Beach) due to increased Floor area ratio.